Updated: Apr 1, 2020
Are you a parent feeling in over your head, literally drowning with the amount of work that your kids are trying to complete, while still transitioning to online or at-home learning, balancing a full-time job, and taking care of your family? Are you in crises, trying to make ends meet because you are out of a job? Do you lack the necessary tools to even transition to online learning?
Whew, that’s a lot just writing it, much less living it.
Seriously, I can’t imagine what you are feeling right now, but I can certainly relate. My two college student kids are home right now, navigating their online learning. But I remember like it was yesterday - the kids being home for an almost two-week period because of a blizzard, and they were receiving “blizzard packs” to do at home. That was a pretty stressful time for me because I had a full-time job and my husband was gone most of the time. What started out as fun quickly turned into dread, frustration, and cabin fever to the max.
That’s as close as I can come to relating to your experience, and yet, that truly pales in comparison because… after all… we are living in a freaking pandemic for God’s sake. That’s just on a whole other level.
So I am writing this article as a plea to all educators, parents, schools, and students to say give yourself some grace. Be courteous. These are unprecedented times that is striking panic in the hearts and minds of everyone. Our students, parents, educators, our world is in a state of trauma. This pandemic has caused psychological distress. The effects are similar to war times and acts of terrorism, and can have a devastating impact upon people, depending on their “trauma-load” before this pandemic.
Trauma can impact a person's physical wellbeing, their emotions, cause a person to act out in harmful ways, lesson a person’s self-worth, and challenge relationships. Trauma can even alter a person’s neurological make-up, decreasing a person’s ability to learn or process problems, causing difficulty regulating attention and problems with planning and organization, and difficulty understanding cause and effect.
The more you know about the trauma, the more you’d agree that the most important thing we can all do right now is do what a local parent, Kevin Mullen suggests, and that is to ask: “What do our students REALLY need right now to advance to the next grade?”
I love this graphic that was recently shared on Twitter by principal Jay Dostal that references Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. This just puts it all into perspective.
According to the Trauma Sensitive School research, the best thing educators, schools, parents, and students can do right now is to give grace to themselves and others, to help one another feel safe, feel connected, and to share ways to increase one’s joy, hope and courage.
Here are a few other suggestions:
Adopt the less is more concept: Educators, instead of transitioning quickly into the full load of work before the pandemic, perhaps consider reducing the load for a bit. After all, states like Ohio have waived state testing requirements for school children this year. If you are an educator, I highly suggest you speak to your school leaders about this, and apply this concept to your students. Parents, if you are struggling, speak to your school teachers and leaders about this possibility.
Pray and meditate. Gain confidence and strength by deepening your spiritual connection with God. Pray and simply say, “God, help me. I need you right now to control my thoughts, my body language, my words, and guard my heart.” Repeat that prayer often. Don’t believe in God? Simply meditate. Find a quiet room and sit still for five minutes, breathing deeply and silently while repeating, “I am blessed and I am able to control my thoughts and my words.” Make this a daily practice.
Adopt more joy, love, hope, kindness, and compassion. In life, left unattended, fear, anger, frustration, cynicism, and disappointment can grow, just like weeds. In order to have joy, love, hope, kindness and compassion, you must be intentional, and do things that will feed these qualities. Learn more by reading my blog Which Wolf Are You Feeding?
I am cheering for all of us as we journey toward the other side of this COVID-19 experience. I am confident that by extending grace and adopting a less is more mindset, we’ll RISE up better than before.
If you are looking for more resources to stay positive and hopeful, follow me on social media.